Workshop on computer tools for field linguists

Peter K. Austin Peter.Austin at MPI.NL
Thu Feb 7 16:42:18 UTC 2002

                  Announcement and Call for Papers

         International Workshop on Resources and Tools
                      in Field Linguistics


Deadline for Abstract Submissions: 15 February 2002
Notification of Acceptance: 15 March 2002
Submission of Final Workshop Papers: 12 April 2002

Workshop: 26-27 May 2002
Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain

There is general recognition that many of the world's languages are
rapidly losing speakers. This constitutes loss of a rich cultural
heritage, a loss which future generations will deeply regret.
Considerable efforts have been made to halt this decline and revitalize
these languages; but the decline of these languages is now so far
advanced that a majority of presently existing languages will become
extinct within this century. If this heritage is to be preserved in
any sense, then there must be a serious effort towards documenting and
archiving linguistic data on these languages, so that reconstruction of
the essentials of such languages is possible in posterity, along with
the living cultural environment in which they presently function.

The urgency of this task has changed the direction of field linguistics,
and imposed on it completely new requirements. The highest priority can
no longer be placed upon the simple publication of field-work, even when
based on careful, in-depth analysis of linguistic phenomena. To preserve
as much as possible of the cultural heritage of these languages, we need
instead multimedia recordings, which are accompanied by carefully
linguistic annotations. And we must utilize for this purpose
which guarantee long-term access to all the many facets of the material.
In addition, the advent of the World-Wide-Web requires that the archived
resources be available in new ways, and in conformance with the most
widely adopted emergent standards. If this effort is to be successful,
it must also include good relations with the members of the indigenous
communities which provide the data, and a close cooperation between
linguists and the engineers who provide the technology.

A number of important new initiatives, for example AILLA, DOBES, E-MELD,
LACITO, and ASEDA, have begun work along these lines. There also exist
other institutions, such as the Max Plank Institute for
which began still earlier the task of storing valuable recordings, and
their accompanying added linguistic value.

The workshop will be held as a pre-conference workshop of the 3rd
International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC),
which has expanded its scope to include field linguistics. We expect to
have special sessions at the conference dedicated to the special needs
and problems of field linguistics. LREC is unique amongst conferences
world-wide, in that it brings together experts of diverse expertise, who
both create and maintain language resources. The LREC announcement text
( indicates that the conference has an extended scope
and a broad view of what constitutes language resources. In addition,
LREC conference includes exhibitions and training courses, which we
participants of the proposed workshop would find very useful indeed.

As part of the LREC conference, the primary goal of the workshop is
dedicated to structural and technological issues involved in language
documentation including its cultural background, and in ways of
archived data. Deeper linguistic aspects of the documentation endeavor
its attendant legal and ethical aspects can only be touched briefly. We
mention here a few keywords which indicate the scope of the workshop:

Media Formats
Digitization Methods
Project Workflow Schemes
Metadata for Resource Retrieval
Long-Term Archiving Strategies
Annotation Structures and Formats
Interlinear Text Formats
Character Encoding Guidelines
Language Encoding Guidelines
Linguistic Encoding Guidelines
Dictionary Structures and Formats
Typology Databases
Geographic Information Systems
Integration of Field Notes
Data Types in language documentation
Web-based Archive Access
Tools for language documentation
User Interfaces for Native Speakers

The workshop will be organized so as to provide time for large projects
to inform interested researchers about the methods they use and their
experiences so far. It will further provide time and space for other
projects to describe how they document languages. Panel and discussion
sessions will allow interested researchers to raise questions and
on the methods chosen.

The goals of the workshop are:

(1) To improve our understanding of the methods to be applied when
documenting language data, with a special focus on languages which are
in danger of becoming extinct; and
(2) To discuss methods which have already been applied by different
projects and which hold promise.

Workshop Organizers
Peter Austin, Melbourne University
Helen Dry, Eastern Michigan University
Peter Wittenburg, Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics

Important Dates
Abstract Submissions            15 February 2002
Notification of Acceptance      15 March 2002
Final Versions                  12 April 2002
Workshop                        26-27 May 2002

Abstract Submission
Submitted abstracts should consist of about 400 words. The abstracts
should be submitted electronically as PDF, PS, RTF, or plain text
files to the following address: lrec-workshop at The deadline
for submitting the abstracts is February 15th. The notification of
acceptance will be sent by March 15th 2002.

Paper Submissions and Proceedings
There is one month between the notification of acceptance and
submission of a workshop paper. Papers have to be submitted
electronically to the same address (lrec-workshop at as PDF,
PS, RTF, or plain text files. There will be proceedings of this
workshop which will be made available free to all participants at
the beginning of the workshop.

Organizational Matters
For all questions with respect to the content of this workshop,
please send emails to lrec-workshop at Since this workshop will
be embedded in the LREC conference all emails with respect to
organizational and financial questions can be addressed to the
official LREC email address as well: lrec at Forms for
registration, accommodation reservation etc will be found on the
LREC web-site:

For current information about the workshop see:

The participation fees for this workshop will be 90 EURO for
conference participants and 140 EURO for the others. The first day
of the workshop will be supported by funds from ISLE and DOBES. The
fees cover a copy of the proceedings.

Program Committee
Anthony Aristar
Peter Austin
Steven Bird
Bernard Comrie
Helen Dry
Arienne Dwyer
Dafydd Gibbon
Nikolaus Himmelmann
Terry Langendoen
Stephen Levinson
Kazuto Matsumura
Patrick McConvell
Tony McEnery
Boyd Michailovsky
Ulrike Mosel
Peter Muysken
David Nash
David Nathan
Randy LaPolla
Hans-J├╝rgen Sasse
Gunter Senft
Gary Simons
Peter Wittenburg

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